Do you have that friend who is continually caught up in the seemingly unending break-up-make-up-cycle? The friend who you really want to offer your support to through all her roller coaster relationship drama, but you just can't help but find yourself wondering: What is the point? I mean, do relationships work after a breakup or are they just basically doomed to repeat the cycle? Or maybe that "friend" is actually you and you're starting to lose hope that you can ever make your on-again-off-again romance work.
Short answer? Yes, it is possible. Of course, like all things in relationships, nothing is that simple. There are a million factors — like timing, depth of emotion, personal growth, and why the eff you broke up in the first place — that will determine if a long-term reconciliation is even possible. Sound complicated? That’s because it is. So I reached out to two experts in the field of dating and relationships — NYC Relationship Expert Susan Winter and Senior Matchmaker and Dating Coach Lori Salkin of SawYouatSinai.com — to help explain when a relationship can work after a break up and when it's time to finally throw in the towel and GTFO.
Can Relationships Work After A Break Up?
Yes they can, but according to Winter, they require some level of personal transformation. Not that you have to change yourself to please the other person, but you both need to spend some time self-reflecting, figuring out where the two of you didn't fit, and finding a way to become more compatible before deciding to give the relationship a second chance.
Winter says if both partners have "done their individual adjustments to become better versions of themselves, the potential to reconnect (and rediscover love) is in their favor."
Another major factor in the success of renewing a relationship, according to Salkin, is timing. She explains that timing is everything in a relationship. If you are in different places in your lives, there is very little you can do to make you partnership a successful one — for now. That doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the future though, as she explains, "I have several happily-married couples who met several years prior to when they began dating, but because of where they were geographically or emotionally in their lives, they just could not come together. Then after a few years and some geographic and professional changes and emotional growth, the relationships worked beautifully."
In other words, don’t give up hope just because someone isn’t Mr. or Mrs. Right Now. They may end up being Mr. or Mrs. Right sometime in the future.
Can Breaking Up Actually Be Good For The Relationship?
If timing is such an important factor, is it possible that the the best thing you could do for the future of your relationship actually mean breaking up? Salkin says yes. Breaking up gives each of you time grow into a place where you’re "ready" for a long term relationship — and, in some cases, just grow up.
Sometimes, however, the positive side of taking a break isn’t about learning to evolve and be emotionally and mentally ready to lock it down. Instead, it’s about forcing both of you to stop and take an honest look at things at the core of the relationship aren't working. Breaking up shocks you out of the pattern of turning a blind eye to these things, says Winter, so that you can figure out "the exact nature of the problems, without which no healing could occur."
How Can You Improve Your Chances Of Making It Work This Time?
OK, so the timing is right, you’ve taken a good, long look at what isn’t working and figured out how each of you can compromise or improve and make each other happy this time around. But is there anything else you can do to tip the odds in your favor?
For Winter, it’s all about learning to really keep it real with your SO at all times. "Make it your goal to become an excellent communicator," she says. "Learn how to identify what you're feeling and become proficient in expressing those feelings to your partner." That can be really scary, especially if you’re afraid you will lose them again by being to open with your feelings, but, in reality, being emotionally open and vulnerable is the only way you can hope to make your relationship a success in the long run.
Salkin adds that it’s also important not to just expect to fall back into the same relationship. For one thing, it didn’t work, but also during the time apart you’ve both changed and you need to get to know the people you’ve each become, developing a new connection and bond.
There you have it — yes, it is possible to make your relationship work after you’ve broken up. However, it’s not easy and both people have to want to do the work, but you can fall back in love and be happy with one another. Winter does offer one bit of final advice in moments where it may feel too hard: "Before you blame your partner, check in with yourself. Try to keep your side of the street clean, while staying aware of what adjustments your relationship requires."
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